Make Your Weirdness Count

“[Writing] is the place where the things that make you weird, the things about yourself that you know are different and even difficult, count the most.” ~ Linda LaPlante, The Making of a Story

Before we dive into weirdness, I must say how blown away I am by the response to yesterday’s post after it was featured on Freshly Pressed. This morning was a true test of my resolve to do morning pages before going online (I passed!), and when I saw that “Writer, Interrupted” has over 100 comments, my first thought was something like “yeeha!”, and my second was a more sober “how will I ever respond to them all before I leave for Texas tomorrow? ah, the guilt, the guilt…” Please forgive me if I don’t reply individually. The thoughts and ideas and generous wishes you have shared are a treasure, and I plan to collect the suggestions and BTDTs in a feature post so that we all can benefit from them as we create writing lives for ourselves in this crazy, wonderful, connected world. Thank you.

The quotation above comes from a book I have written about here before (The Making of a Story, by Linda LaPlante), and the words remind me of a blog post I found last summer, It’s July: Let Your Freak Flag Fly, by Cyndi Briggs (worth a read for anyone feeling that their own “weirdness” is a problem rather than a strength).

So, what does being weird have to do with writing? I once taught a grade school literature unit that used autobiographies and memoirs of children’s book authors as a way not only to give students a glimpse into the childhoods of their favorite writers, but, more important, to show them that being or feeling different, weird, out of place, the proverbial stranger in a strange land just might be what sparked those writers to write in the first place.

Jane Piirto, creativity expert and author of, among other books, Understanding Creativity, tells us that the call to create is more like a thorn than a gentle push. It sustains, yes, but it is also, at times, painful. It pierces and drives us forward, into new space. The feeling of being out of step with the world is, I think, part of the creative thorn for many people. It doesn’t matter if our weirdness is visible (many of us have spent a lifetime learning to hide it, after all). What matters is that something is missing, especially in the realm of connection.

Writing is at its core a way to connect and to communicate—with ourselves, with others, with an amorphous readership we can’t even yet imagine, with the future. It is an act of generativity. If we felt a part of this world from the beginning, securely connected in every way, would we have the urge, the drive, the thorn to create?

Today, let’s spend some time being thankful for our weirdness in whatever form it takes, for the thorn that prods us on, and begin to make it a part of our writing. In this way, the act of writing becomes an act of self-discovery, of finding our voice on and off the page.

“The goal is to find your voice, the voice that isn’t like everyone else’s. And this is a very difficult thing to do, for the plain reason that we have mostly spent our lives trying to fit in.” ~ Linda LaPlante

15 thoughts on “Make Your Weirdness Count

    • I definitely have days like that.

      The idea for your blog is amazing! What an imaginative way to combine a love of history with an addiction to writing. 🙂

      ~ Lisa

  1. I love your blog and I can understand why wordpress chose to freshly press you, which is how I came by you. I’m finding inspiration and affirmation in what you and others you quote have to say and will follow in future with interest. This post on finding your inner weirdo is very relevant to how I am feeling right now. I am a new writer, embarking on my exciting journey, with no idea where it’s going to take me but I know it’s taking me somewhere amazing, fast! I am discovering that when I reach and make contact with that part of me that is truly uniquely me, my words seem to contain a truth and energy that readers really respond to.
    Thanks

  2. I would be interested in learning some strategies that would enable me to ‘find my voice.’

    I enjoy reading your blog, I can relate to it which is something that I find difficult to do with others because of who and where I am.

    • I’ll definitely start putting together some ideas for finding one’s voice. Thanks for the suggestion (and the kind words)! Look for a post on the topic soon.
      ~ Lisa

  3. Your blog came at the right time, the night before I was thinking about how I critique too frequently while writing which doesn’t allow my authentic self to shine! This is a good reminder to just allow–let those eccentric characteristics take over. Thanks for the post!

  4. I´m just beginning to write and found this very interesting because I had never associated not belonging with my writing. I never have belonged anywhere because I´m a third-culture kid, a missionary´s kid. That´s ok, though. It makes me more interesting. And apparently, (according to your info) makes me more creative! Thanks.

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